Archive for Panionios

Poor Start for Morais

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, Basketball, Derby, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , , on October 22, 2016 by alexaek

AEK 0-0 Panionios

I guess all things considered, things could have gotten off to an even worse start for Morais… after all, we could have lost. But really, even though it was only his first game in charge the team really should have been able to find a way to score against Panionios.

How It All Unfolded

There were a few uncertain variables going into this game: how we would do without Galo and Patito, how Morais would line up the team, etc… Even so, I wasn’t terribly worried. We’ve been decent at home this season and the Larissa game not too long ago gave me hope that maybe the team has started to find ways of winning regardless of how they play. I hate to say it but really, if we want to have any hope of staying in the title race, results have to come first and then we can focus on playing attractive football.

Well, today, none of that seemed to be the case for the team. Sometimes after a result like today’s, I can at least say that the team played well and deserved more but that just wasn’t the case. The football I saw from the team was rather painful to watch at some points. To be fair to the defense, they did a decent job. Panionios didn’t venture up the pitch too often since they struggled to gain any meaningful possession but when they did, they rarely looked like they would threaten us.

Offensively however, we were lacking in every way. It took a good amount of time before we created any sort of a chance and when we did manage to get some chances, they were few and far between. Mantalos was maybe the only player actually contributing to our attack while Didac was also trying to provide some options down the wing. Aravidis, Platellas, Bakasetas and (I hate to say it) Almeida provided very little  to our attack though Almeida can only be blamed so much since he was hardly getting any balls into the box that he could work with.

So What Needs To Change?

Well, I’m hoping our play will smoothen out a bit as the team spends more time with Morais. They’ve only had four or five days to work with him and I imagine his system is quite different from what they were used to with Ketsbaia so I’m sure time will help a bit. To be honest though, there is only so much he can do. In fact, I have to give him some credit for fielding a decent lineup with the players he had available and though it didn’t exactly pay off, that was hardly his fault.

Who has to be blamed here is our players. There was no creativity going forward at all. Every ball that caused any danger to Panionios was a high ball in and while they could sometimes cause a scare, more than often they would end up comfortably in the keeper’s hands. The team could not come up with anything different, they could not string together any meaningful passes and they sorely lacked composure in front of the net.

From what I see, it seems as though the team needs to take a step back and approach the way they play with a clearer state of mind. Maybe they’re over thinking things, maybe they don’t trust themselves, but they should be able to be more precise offensively than they were today. Patito’s absence today was really felt, but surely we should be able to create something worthwhile without him on the pitch?

I know its still early and I know we didn’t lose the game so maybe it seems like I’m making a bigger deal of today’s result than I should be. But we absolutely need to be winning games like this, and the one against Iraklis where we also drew 0-0 at home. Especially when you take a look at our schedule for the next three games, you start to realize just how much the dropped points here will hurt us: we play PAOK away, followed by Atromitos at home, and Panathinaikos away. To be completely honest, aside from the Atromitos game I don’t see us picking up many points, if any at all, at the two away derbies. Before the season started I felt differently about these games but seeing how we’ve been playing lately, I’ll be very surprised if manage to even sneak a draw at those games.

At Least We Fared Better in Basketball

Earlier in the day our basketball club played an away game (which again felt like a home game due the wonderful presence of our supporters) against Kymis, a game which we never looked like losing from the first minute. It was a great game both defensively and offensively, and what excites me most of all is the fact that we finally seem to have a team that can score some three pointers. Too many times last season we would throw a game away by missing so many three pointers, but it seems like that might not be the case the season.

The win puts us at three for three in the league. For highlights of both the basketball and football game, check out Novasport’s page here: http://aek365.novasports.grl

Panionios 1-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Greek Soccer, Manager, Playoffs, Pre-season, Signing, Singings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2016 by alexaek

A disappointing end to what has been a very disappointing bunch of playoff games for AEK. I knew going into it all that we’d be pretty tired and worn out, but I was hoping for better than 4th place but what can you do? Honestly I can’t complain, I’d rather see us win the Cup and finish 4th rather than finish 2nd but not win the Cup.

I didn’t get to watch the match but it didn’t sound like I missed all that much anyways. We did have a few chances, notably yet another post by Aravidis, but the commentary I was following gave me the impression that it was Panionios who were having more success going forward.

Despite the unfortunate result, it was nice to see Zuculini in the starting XI. I know he had mentioned a few times that he wanted to play for the team again and it was great to see him get a chance. Not sure if theres any chance he’ll be with us next season but I think its worth considering our options if we can keep him. We didn’t get to see all that much from him so I would like to see what he could after a whole pre-season with the team.

Aside from Zuculini, we also brought some other players with us who have yet to feature all that much for us this season including Vouras, Svarnas, Vasilantonopoulos, Vlahomitros, Galanopoulos, and Kyriazis. To be honest I don’t remember seeing all that much at all of any of these players aside from Svarnas and Vasilantonopoulos, but it was nice to see them included. Only Galanopoulos, Vasilantonopoulos and Vlahomitros ended up playing as subs and I’m not really sure how well they played or what contributions they made to the team.

 

Today’s match was the last time we’d see Nikos Pantazis on the bench with the team. Niko, who has been part of AEK’s physiotherapy team since 1972, has been arguably the most loyal member of the team through all these years. He grew up as an AEK fan and never once left the team. When I was back in Greece he was one of those people I always just associated with AEK. Players left, coaches left as often as management did, but Niko was always there. I just wanted to take a moment to thank him for his dedication to the club, even through all that the team has been through. It will be weird seeing shots of the team bench on TV without him on it.

Nikos celebrating the club (photo courtesy of http://www.gazzetta.gr)

 

Shortly after our game today, various news outlets started posting articles in which they said we were very close to singing a new manager. The manager they all mention is Philippe Montanier, most recently the manager of Rennes. He has also managed Real Sociedad and was assistant manager to the Ivory Coast. He’s not too old, but not too young that he lacks experience, and he seems like a fairly serious manager. I don’t all that much about him and while there were other managers out there I would have liked to see with the team, I’d be pretty satisfied if we ended up singing Montanier. Regardless of who do end up singing, I would just like to see it finalized as soon as possible so we can start building our squad right away.

Panathinaikos 3-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Derby, football, Greek Football, Greek Super League, Panathinaikos, PAOK, Playoffs with tags , , , , on May 23, 2016 by alexaek

Three games in six days, I’m really not sure whose bright idea that was. Regardless, the effects were apparent today and there was little the team could do to hold off PAO. I’m not trying to make excuses for the team, but who can expect better when they play a Cup final, followed by a game against Panionios three days later and then an away derby three days after that.

We were poor today in every way possible. We couldn’t string together more than two passes without giving the ball away far too easily, we were beaten to every lose ball by a PAO player, and our defense simply couldn’t handle the pace and strength of their opponents. I’m sure the team tried, but they couldn’t get anything going. It was only once Leto was subbed off that PAO’s attack became less efficient and we finally had a couple chances to move forward.

Of course it doesn’t help that Manolas still hasn’t returned as manager, and both Vargas and Simoes but either way, this was one game that we’ll want to put behind us as soon as possible. The sooner we can put the game behind us the better since just three days from now, on Friday the 26th, we play PAO again but this time at OAKA. Thats right, that’s another game within three days, followed by the game against PAOK three days after that, and the game against Panionios two days later.

The more I look at this schedule, the less I can understand it. Once all is over and done with, AEK would have played six games in less than two weeks. And why? Because EPO and the Superleague are two of the most incompetent organizations ever to have been involved in the sport of football. This could have all been avoided had EPO just stuck with the referees that they had agreed to use for the Cup final but instead, Gritzikis and his entourage decided to act like a bunch of children so that he could have things his way.

We’ve all known this for years, but this year’s playoffs have once again proven how much of a joke this whole system is. The fact that the Superleague continues to apply it and somehow believes it is good for the sport is beyond me.

Anyways, thats enough for my little rant (for now). You can see the highlights below but there isn’t much to take from it all. All I can hope for is that we can turn things around for the next three games since we still have a shot of getting 2nd. Having two home derbies in a row is the best shot we’ll have of getting maximum points. All I can hope for is that we get a decent crowd at OAKA for these games.

http://aek365.novasports.gr

PAOK 2-1 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby, EPO, Greek Cup, Greek Football, Greek Soccer, Greek Super League, Panathinaikos, PAOK, Playoffs with tags , , , , , on May 12, 2016 by alexaek

Possibly the worst start to the playoffs that we could have hoped for, dropping all three points as well as falling to third in the standings. We got lucky in considering Panathinaikos only managed to draw 1-1 with Panionios, but yesterday’s result certainly puts the pressure on us from an early stage.

I didn’t get to watch the match but I was able to follow the live commentary for much of it and sounded like a very uninspired performance for the most part. At one point we had barely over 25 percent of the possesion and while we managed to create a few decent chances, it seems like only a draw would have been a fair result. I have to give credit to PAOK for scoring two fantastic goals but its really too bad we couldn’t at least come away with the point. We went up first after Johansson tucked away a dropped ball by PAOK’s keeper just before half time, but I was never confident that we would hold on to the lead if what people were saying online was anything to go by. Its a shame really that we couldn’t put in a better performance considering the game was played behind closed doors. If we struggled this much in an empty stadium, I imagine we’re not going to be much better off when we’re playing in front of Panionios and Panathinaikos supporters.

A couple things worth noting from the game: You’ll notice if you watch the highlights below that we were originally awarded a penalty for a hand ball fairly early on, but it was unfortunately called back due to offsides. I have to admit, it seems like it was the right call. Also worth noting that both Barbosa and PAOK’s Katse got red cards after the match due to the standoff the two had which eventually led to an all out brawl between the two sides. The scene that transpired afterwards seems to sum up much of the game really, a game that was played with a lot of nerves and tension almost from the start.

 

If you’ve been wondering when the Cup final will be played, I unfortunately no concrete news to report. EPO came out and said that the final will take place on the 17th but at the moment that still can’t really happen. First of all, EPO has not yet agreed to either use foreign refs, or at least use Sidiropoulos’ usual team of assistants. In addition, NovaSports and all the teams involved would have to agree on some sort of change to the playoff schedule. As it stands, AEK would have to play a playoff game on the 15th, the Cup final on the 17th, and another playoff game on the 18th, something that for obvious reasons simply could not happen. Even if a change to the schedule were to happen, it would mean an almost unreasonable amount of games within such a short period of time for AEK, something that the team has said they are not on board with at the moment (and I can’t say I blame them).

In case you were wondering why the final couldn’t just happen in June once the playoffs have ended, you’ll have to keep in mind that with the Euro coming up, all league and cup play must be over by the end of May. As of now, the only way the final could be played after May would be if a exception were to be made by FIFA and UEFA, something which seems highly unlikely.

Playoff Schedule Announced

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Playoffs with tags , , , , on April 28, 2016 by alexaek

So the draw for the playoffs took place today and overall I can’t complain all that much. Take a look below to see who we’ll be playing and when. Its worth noting that our first game against PAOK in Toumba will be played without fans.

1st Matchday (May 11th): PAOK – AEK, Toumba, Thessaloniki

2nd Matchday (May 15th): Panionios – AEK, Nea Smyrni, Athens

3rd Matchday (May 18th): Panathinaikos – AEK, Leoforos, Athens

4th Matchday (May 22nd): AEK – Panathinaikos, OAKA, Athens

5th Matchday (May 25th): AEK – PAOK, OAKA, Athens

6th Matchday (May 29th): AEK – Panionios, OAKA, Athens

Its a bit strange that all of our first three games are away but the way I see it is, if we can come out strong and get some results in the first three matches, then we have a good chance of finishing the playoffs in a good way. We seemed to have some luck with derbies at home this season so theres no reason for us to not be able to get all nine points from the last three games at least.

 

AEK 2-0 Panionios

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2016 by alexaek

A pretty big result for us today against Panionios, and a decent performance as well. I was a bit worried going into this match since I knew Panionios  were coming off of a very big win and have one of the league’s most in form players with Bakasetas. I was also afraid that our poor form from the past few matches would carry through but it seemed the team was determined to put an end to that. In fact, I would have to say that the way we played today was some of the best football I’ve seen us play since we had that winning streak back in January.

There was nothing drastic with our starting lineup today, though the second start in a row for Buonanotte was a positive straight from the get go. Unfortunately, I don’t really think he played as well as AEK365 seems to think he did. I don’t think it really has to do with his ability as a player, but more to do with how he fits in to the formations and style of football we play. He was positioned towards the wing but more often than not ended up playing more centrally, a position on the pitch where he just doesn’t have the presence required to hold up the ball. I personally would like to see him lineup in a formation where we have two forwards with Buonanotte as one, and a larger player like Pekhart or Aravidis playing beside him so that we could still have a larger target man when needed. He definitely has the skill to make huge impacts the way Scocco was able to, but we need to see him playing in a position where his attacking instinct can come into play more easily. Especially when we already have strong players who can hold onto the ball well such as Simoes, Vargas, and Barbosa, I would love to see him play in a position where every first touch he takes is in a position where he can go straight for goal and take a shot or dribble the ball into a dangerous position.

AEK-Panionios

Image source: http://www.aekfc.gr

 

For the most part we played very well going forward. We managed to create some decent chances throughout the first half with Johansson even hitting the post and Aravidis barely missing what would have been a simple tap in. A lot of our effectiveness in attack arose from the fact that we managed to play the ball low and direct, avoiding pointless long balls in the air whenever we could. We managed to keep the ball down and moved it around efficiently with Mantalos, Vargas, and Johansson all linking up very well. Didac also made some fantastic contributions going forward, always providing an option down the wing and often getting the ball dangerously close to Panionios’ net. With some more in form attacking players, we could have gone up by a couple goals before the close of the first half.

Defensively we were okay, but shaky at times. Arzo specifically made what could have been a very costly mistake, one which could have also potentially given a penalty against us. For the most part though, our defense wasn’t quite as active as I thought they would be since Panionios ended up playing far less aggressively than I expected them to. They still managed to get up to our box on a few occasions but they were happy to soak up the pressure for the most part and when they did manage to venture forward, they never ended up looking too dangerous.

With the game still at 0-0 with twenty minutes left, Cordero got sent off for his second yellow of the match. I feared the worse at that point but luckily for us, Poyet made two fantastic changes just before then, bringing on Barbosa for Aravidis, and Pekhart for Vargas. Just two minutes after Cordero’s expulsion from the match, Barbosa and Pekhart linked up brilliantly and put us ahead 1-0 after Pekhart did well to finish a pass from Barbosa despite the angle being less than favourable.

The difference in the tempo of the match after Barbosa was brought on was noticed immediately, and having a new face to target going forward seemed to provide a boost to the team as not long after our first goal Barbosa and Pekhart again linked up very well, this time with Barbosa sending a wonderful long ball forward for Pekhart to latch on to. The shot took a lucky deflection for us, but Pekhart did well to get the ball quickly under control before taking the shot.

Despite only playing for twenty minutes, Pekhart more than deserved the MVP award for doing exactly what was needed when we needed it most. I’ve been a bit harsh on him from after previous games, but he really hasn’t had a great chance to really settle in with the team. Performances like today though really show that if he is in fact given the chance to really find his place in the team, I think he can be a critical player for us. His size and finishing skill make him a perfect target man up front, someone who is tough to defend and can play both high and low balls just as effectively.

All in a all a good performance from the team, and definitely a good sign that we can expect some decent games from the team during the playoffs, as long as they play like today and not like last week (or the week before that). I’m curious if Pekhart’s performance today will land him a position in the starting lineup next match, but I personally wouldn’t mind seeing him as an impact sub off the bench again.

I haven’t found a highlight video yet, but the two goals from today are on YouTube for those who would like to see them. In case you were wondering why the stadium was so quiet today, we were unfortunately playing the first of two home games without fans for our punishment due to the events of our game against Atromitos.

 

A quick note about our basketball team too, after their 87-74 win over Arkadikos over the weekend (a bittersweet win for me since its always disappointing to see a team from my region of the Peloponnese get relegated, as was the case for Arkadikos after their loss) . The win means we finish the league in fourth, setting us up to play PAOK in the playoffs. To be honest, I think we have a good chance of getting past PAOK and into the next round assuming we play well defensively. We beat them early in the season, and had the chance to beat them quite comfortably in Thessaloniki if we hadn’t let that game slip out of our hands due to error after error. With a focused performance in all the games, we can definitely make it through.

 

AEK 3-0 Panthrakikos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, football, Greek Football, PAOK, Playoffs, Superleague with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2016 by alexaek

Such a disappointing finish to a game which started so well. I have no complaints about the score, of course, but when you score three goals within the first twenty minutes I can’t help but build up a sense of expectation. I wasn’t surprised to see the first half end at 3-0, but I was certainly expecting another goal at least.

To be fair to the players though, it wasn’t exactly their fault. The fact that we had two injuries and were forced to make two substitutions very early in the game affected our rhythm from what I read and that’s definitely understandable. We also have to keep in mind the fact that the weather in Athens was dreadful today (cold and wet) as well as knowing that the team probably so no reason in wearing themselves out when we have some important playoff games to get ready for.

MVP of the match I believe was Buonanotte and I can’t help but be happy for him. He’s been given very few chances this season, and he’s hardly ever started a match. Despite this, he always manages to give Poyet a reason or two to trust that he can contribute when we need him. His goal so early on showed exactly the kind of ball movement we need in front of the goal. We have players who can hold on to the ball well in the centre of the pitch and players who can play well down the wings, but very few of our players can draw out defenders while working the ball into the 18 yard box the way Buonanotte can.

Aside from Buonanotte, another player well worth mentioning from today was Mantalos. As is often the case, he showed yet again how desperately we miss his presence when hes not playing. The way he can so confidently keep the ball at his feet until the right moment to make a pass is a huge factor in so many of our plays and when hes in form, he is easily our main player in attack.

The two injuries we picked up today were pretty unfortunate, especially for Soiledis since he had a great start to the game. Aside from Soiledis, Kolovetsios was also injured early on but thankfully for us, both Cordero and Buonanotte managed to play the whole game without injuring themselves.

Today’s win puts eight points ahead of PAO and a comfortable thirteen points ahead of fifth placed Panionios. What this means for us is that if the playoffs were to start today, we would start with three points, Panathinaikos with one, and both PAOK and Panionios with none. At this point I really can’t see us dropping many points and I’m pretty confident we’ll be starting the playoffs with three points. Considering we might have to have our fans banned from some of the home games during the playoffs, any point advantage we can get could potentially go a long way.

Highlights as usual at the NovaSport page below:

http://aek365.novasports.gr